Social Gatherings and Events

When trying to decide whether to attend or host gatherings or events, it's important to consider several factors, including your vaccination status, the level of COVID-19 in your community, and whether you or someone in your household is at high risk of developing severe illness.

Consider the following:

  • Vaccination status: The best way to protect yourself and others at a gathering is to get up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccines. Visit Vaccinate Virginia to schedule an appointment for yourself and encourage people you know to stay up to date as well.
  • Level of COVID-19 spread in the community: COVID-19 Community Levels are classified as low, medium, or high. The Levels are determined  by the number of new COVID-19 cases in the community in addition to data on COVID-19 cases in local hospitals. Check the COVID-19 Community Level in your area. 
  • Your own health status, such as whether you have a weakened immune system or have a medical condition that places you at high risk of having severe illness. Consider also if you live with or will be having social contact with someone who is at high risk of having severe illness. Consider self-testing to detect infection before any contact with them, especially when the COVID-19 Community Level is medium or high. 
  • The number of people at the gathering: The risk of COVID-19 spread also increases if there are more people at the event or if they come from many different places. If you are gathering with a group of people from multiple households and potentially from different parts of the country, consider additional precautions (e.g., avoiding crowded indoor spaces before travel, taking a test) in advance of gathering to further reduce risk.
  • Ventilation: Outdoor gatherings are safer than indoor gatherings. Gatherings in large, well-ventilated spaces are safer than gatherings in smaller spaces that are not well-ventilated. See CDC’s Improving Ventilation in Your Home page for more tips.
  • Behavior of people at the gathering: Practicing safer behaviors during the event, like wearing well-fitting masks, especially when the COVID-19 Community Level is high, can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at the event. See the tabs below for more COVID-19 prevention strategies for hosting or attending events.

Hosting Gatherings

  • Encourage all attendees who are eligible to get up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Remind invited guests to stay home if they have symptoms of COVID-19 and to follow all VDH recommendations for isolation/quarantine if they recently tested positive for COVID-19 or were exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Host your gathering outdoors whenever possible. If this is not feasible, make sure the room or space is well-ventilated (for example, open windows if it doesn’t pose a safety risk).
  • When guests arrive, minimize activities that promote close contact. Consider having activities available that allow attendees to remain at least 6 feet apart. 
  • Consider wearing a mask if COVID-19 Community Levels are high in your area and encourage guests to do the same. The VDH mask page provides more information on masking recommendations.
  • Provide hand sanitizer if hand washing areas are not readily available.
  • Remind guests to wash their hands before serving or eating food.
  • Discourage guests from sharing cups and dishes. Provide serving utensils to pick up shared foods like chips.
  • Clean [Español] commonly touched surfaces and any shared items regularly.
  • Consider postponing indoor gatherings when COVID-19 Community Levels are high.

Attending Gatherings

Ventilation

Keep indoor areas well-ventilated to reduce spread through the air. Ways to improve ventilation include:

  • Open doors and windows to bring in fresh air when the weather is nice.
  • Use fans to move air from inside your home to outside. Consider using a window exhaust fan if you have one. Be sure it is placed safely and securely in the window. Another option is to place a fan as close as possible to an open window or door, blowing outside. Don’t leave fans unattended with young children.
  • Add portable air filters in rooms with poor ventilation or rooms where many people are gathered together.

More information on how to improve ventilation can be found on VDH’s Ventilation Best Practices fact sheet and on CDC’s Improving Ventilation in Your Home

Vote Safely

The Virginia Department of Elections has several options for voting during the COVID-19 pandemic, including absentee voting and early in-person voting. Check with your local registrar office for more information on early voting. If you vote in person on an election day, all individuals are encouraged to follow all signage and COVID-19 guidance provided by your local polling center. 

The VDH mask page provides current masking recommendations for the general public. For Organizers: See the VDH COVID-19 Signage Toolkit and CDC COVID-19 Community Levels  guidance.

Page last updated: June 23, 2022